A veteran and seasoned sergeant is joining the race to unseat Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith.
Last week, Christine Nagaye announced her candidacy for the 2022 election. A San Jose resident, Nagaye has worked at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office for 19 years, including six as a supervising sergeant. She previously worked for Southwest Airlines and as a medic in the U.S. Army, according to her Linkedin.
“First and foremost, my pledge is to bring honesty, transparency and integrity back to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department,” Nagaye said in a statement. Nagaye does not appear to have officially filed as of Tuesday, based on a review of county records.
Nagaye’s platform focuses on law enforcement and custody reform. She said her first priority as sheriff would be an independent and thorough review of law enforcement practices and management of the Santa Clara County jail system—something Smith has faced recent criticism over.
“We need to change the culture of a sheriff’s department that has been plagued by mismanagement, scandal and corruption,” Nagaye said.
Both of Smith’s challengers—Nagaye and former opponent Kevin Jensen who launched his campaign earlier this month—have targeted Smith’s alleged mismanagement of the county jail system.
Smith, who was unavailable for comment, is also the subject of a sprawling inquiry by the Board of Supervisors, and faces state and federal investigations of her office into possible civil rights violations that occurred in the jail.
“I am currently solely focused on meeting with elected officials, business and community leaders, local grassroots organizations and my colleagues,” Nagaye told San José Spotlight. “I’m doing something the current sheriff won’t do… listening to our community’s concerns and ideas for the future of the sheriff’s department and how it can better represent Santa Clara County.”
Paulo Pereira, a sheriff’s deputy who has worked with Nagaye for 10 years, told San José Spotlight she is a great team leader.
“Christine not only understands her staff, but she also understands the public and the changes the public is looking for,” Pereira said. “She is respected by many of the officers in the sheriff’s department, including myself.”
Nagaye also emphasized she wants to do outreach to minority communities.
“Our Asian neighbors and our LGBTQ+ communities need to feel safe. Our black and brown communities need to feel valued,” she said.